Multimedia as a Tool for Engagement and Assessment

Streamed Session

Brief Abstract

Students increase content knowledge and solve problems when creating multimedia presentations. This session will explore how multimedia presentations can be utilized to both engage online students and assess learning.  Throughout the presentation, participants will contribute ideas to shared documents/boards that will be available to them after the presentation. 

Extended Abstract

Multimedia presentations include more than one format of content such as text, visuals, or sound (Irrazabal et al., 2016). Traditionally, instructors have used multimedia presentations, specifically PowerPoint presentations, to emphasize key information and clarify course information (Hill et al., 2012). Multiple studies have indicated students perceive the use of presentations during lectures as helpful for their content comprehension (Apperson et al., 2006; Miller & Jones, 2011).


When students are asked to present in a traditional face-to-face learning environment, they move from simply receiving knowledge to purposefully interacting with the content (Thorsen, 1998). Through this interaction, students increase their understanding of the content and solve problems in preparation for communicating the lessons learned, which aligns with the socio-cognitive perspective of learning (Frederiksen & Donin, 2015).  


Classroom presentations have been utilized to encourage active learning and student engagement since the 90’s (Bonk & King, 1998).  With all of the benefits of incorporating presentations as a form of assessment within a face-to-face class, this strategy can also be a part of an online learning environment. Although some research exists positing the value of including student-generated content within online learning environments, the implementation of this strategy is not as widespread as it could be, especially in higher education (Malouff & Shearer, 2016). 


According to research, students indicated they were more familiar and comfortable with the content after recording a presentation (Malouff & Emmerton, 2014).  Student-developed multimedia presentations can result in a variety of different combinations with their choices (Boud, 2018).  The ways students interpret assignment criteria give instructors insight into students’ perspectives and prior knowledge along with the new content knowledge (Wilson & Rhodes, 2010).


Presentations are not limited to only one field.  In some fields, employees report viewing at least one multimedia presentation a day (Paradi, 2013).  Consequently, an assignment requiring students to create a multimedia presentation to demonstrate learned content emulates what students may need to produce as they enter their field of study (Anderson, 2015).


Engagement & Assessment In One


Multimedia presentations may incorporate all of the different interactions expected within a course including instructor-student, student-student, and student-content.  Along with these interactions, instructors could also assess students' understanding or mastery of the concepts within the content.  Rubrics could range from simple categories for the assessment of major concepts to more complex rubrics, which could be used to address more details within different concepts. 


A multimedia project can be used as one of the first assignments with more familiar content to provide students a chance to practice with new tools when the content is not as intense.  When the content is non-threatening, students are able to engage with the actual project and learn how to include new and different multimedia aspects.   If the content is personal, this type of project may only need to be shared with the instructors due to the personal nature of some of the elements that could be included, however, the development of the content can provide a strong instructor-student interaction.  Within this presentation, the audience will be asked to brainstorm different tools that students may need to be familiar with as well as assignments that may be considered non-threatening.  Participants will have the opportunity to access a Google document to contribute or see the shared ideas. 


Class presentations are a common strategy that has been implemented in the traditional face-to-face learning environment.  Students present content to their peers with the goal of teaching their peers about a specific aspect of the unit.  In online learning environments, a multimedia presentation combined with a discussion board may be utilized to accomplish similar goals.  Students create presentations to teach their peers specific topics within a course such as theories, current events, or historical events.  When students create multimedia projects, they are incorporating higher-order thinking skills as they evaluate and create content.  The development of the content for this type of presentation provides a strong student-content interaction. The audience will be asked to brainstorm current assignments that could be converted to presentations to assess students’ understanding or mastery of concepts. Participants will have the opportunity to upload ideas to a shared Padlet. 


Collaborative groups may be established to create a shared multimedia project and increase student-student interactions.  Learning management systems often provide tools to facilitate group communication such as discussion boards only accessible by the assigned group members to allow for detailed discussions related to the content and format of a presentation.  Additionally, other presentation tools also allow multiple users to access and work on a specific presentation simultaneously. Each member would be required to contribute a different aspect of the presentation.  These details could be determined by the instructor through instructions and/or a rubric or negotiated by the students. The audience will be asked to share concerns they may have with the use of group work in an online learning environment. 


Developing an Assignment

The idea of incorporating multimedia assignments may be overwhelming.  A number of details need to be considered when developing a multimedia assignment.  A variety of tools exist for students to create multimedia presentations.  These are the steps that will need to be thought through when developing an assignment. 


The first step would be to identify what will be considered multimedia for the assignment.  Will students present and share screens for a more traditional presentation feel?  Or, will students be able to embed sound bites within the presentation?  These decisions may be determined by the available tools.  To build on students’ strengths and comfort level with technology, students may be allowed to choose a tool based on assignment requirements rather than assigned a tool.  A variety of tools may be employed to record a more traditional presentation, such as Loom, Flipgrid, or Screencastify, while another set of tools may be considered that will allow sound bites such as PowerPoint and Prezi. 


When considering the tool, the goals of the assignment need to be considered.  At times one of the goals may be to learn a new tool, or a new aspect of a tool, that could be required at a later date such as in another course or a tool that students could be expected to be able to use within their field.  In this case, requiring a specific tool may be necessary. However, if the tool is not part of the goals, then the students may be allowed to choose a tool with which they are more familiar and more comfortable using.  Additionally, consider how the video will be uploaded for submission.  Will only the instructor have access to view the presentation, or will others in the class need access to view it?  Some tools will embed directly within a learning management system such as Flipgrid.  Other tools will require videos to be uploaded.  Tools may not offer that option with a free version, however, students are able to share a URL with the class and instructor.


For the sound aspect, will students be required to record themselves, or could they select other video resources to embed in a presentation?  The process needed to identify quality videos or sound bites can require an extensive evaluation process. Additionally, as students search for appropriate videos, they are exposed to the content in various formats and at various depths to strengthen their understanding.  They will be required to understand the content enough to identify correct and incorrect resources.


Additionally, the length of the presentation needs to be considered based on the goals.  A range of time requires students to evaluate the information they have gathered to determine what should not be included, what should be included, and the detail needed.  Some presentations may be as short as two to three minutes while others may need to be closer to 10 minutes. The shorter time frames require students to evaluate and concisely present their information.

References will be included in presentation.